In Hamlet, imagery of disease, poison and decay, are used by Shakespeare for a purpose. The descriptions of disease, poison, and decay help us understand the bitter relationships that exist in the play and Hamlet's own cynicism. We see Hamlet's pessimism in his soliloquy when he contemplates suicide. The resentful relationship that exists between Claudius and Hamlet is heightened with the use of imagery when Claudius asks about Polonius. Imagery enhances Claudius" abhorrence of Hamlet. Shakespeare uses imagery in this play to deepen our understanding of the emotions experienced. .
The imagery of decay is used to help comprehend the depression Hamlet feels in his first soliloquy about suicide. "O that this too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew," (I;ii, 129-130) Hamlet is basically communicating that he wishes not to exist in this world anymore. He wants to die and be apart of the ground. An image of Hamlet's flesh, rotting, combining with the soil is produced. At this moment we can grasp Hamlet's true emotions. We feel his pain and his yearn for death. Hamlet continues to say "How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable/ Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on"t, ah, fie, "tis an unweeded garden/ That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature /Possess it merely."(I;ii, 133-137) Here, Hamlet says his reason for wanting to commit suicide is that he hates the world he lives in. He feels that the world around him is useless and in disarray. We can understand the true motivation for his suicide. Shakespeare lets us peer into Hamlet's soul by creating these vivid images. .
Claudius" relationship with Hamlet is dreadful. Claudius has a great hatred for his nephew and feels his life is at risk, by Hamlet. "But like the owner of a foul disease. To keep it from divulging let it feed/ Even on the pith of life,"(IV; i, 21-23) This is spoken by Claudius, when he is with the queen, after the death of Polonius.